A catastrophic wildfire is spreading quickly next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Two tourist towns have already been engulfed by the flames of the fire as well as the timberlands which surround the national park. It is estimated that over 150 homes and commercial businesses have been destroyed because of the wildfire. To make matters worse, thousands of tourists and residents have been displaced with nowhere to turn.
Authorities have reported that the wildfire has killed 3 people and injured 14 other people. The names of the victims are currently being withheld from the public. Right now, rescue workers are searching all over Sevier County despite the smoky and charred state of the mountains. Unfortunately, there are certain areas which cannot be reached by the authorities because the smoke and fire conditions are too severe.
Overall, the wildfire forced over 14,000 people to escape the county and run for their lives. Local firefighters suspect that the wildfire started on the mountain called “Chimney Tops.” This is a popular hiking location where tourists typically go. As of now, arson is believed to be the reason for the fire but there are no suspects at this time.
One of the reasons why the fire spread so quickly is because the winds just happen to be picking up this time of year. Some of the winds have even been reported to be over 40 miles-per-hour, which is fast enough to fuel a wildfire into a bigger and more massive fire. It also doesn’t help that eastern Tennessee is experiencing a drought right now so there is virtually no chance of rain coming down to help put out the wildfire.
In total, about 80,000 acres have been burned from the wildfire. This amount is likely to grow as the fire continues to spread even more.